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Match Thread- #20/21 SOCCER opens conference play hosting defending national champion and #5 UCLA (Friday, 9/22/23, 7:00 PM MT)


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Buff SOCCER (8-1-0), after an overall very nice non-conference performance, starts conference play with probably one of its 2 toughest tests*** of the regular season as the defending national champion and current #5 ranked UCLA Bruins (6-1-0) comes into Boulder for a Friday night contest.
(The national poll voters must be tough, as UCLA started off ranked #1 but are now "down" to #5 with only one loss, a 1-3 contest in Provo against current #1 BYU.

***Heading into conference play, 4 Pac 12 teams are represented in the top 25 poll. In addition to UCLA and CU, Stanford is at #3 and WSU #24.)

Not that last season means much of anything anymore, but just to maybe get a ROUGH idea on the competition, CU ended up #69 in the last RPI rating in 2022, while UCLA was #1 .

The match is scheduled to be shown on the Pac 12 Networks. (See more details and links near the bottom of this post.)

Go Buffs!!!

(Cubuffs.com preview not available as I type this.)

More on the Bruins -

- https://uclabruins.com/sports/womens-soccer/roster
Stats - https://uclabruins.com/sports/womens-soccer/stats/2023
Schedule/ results for this season - https://uclabruins.com/sports/womens-soccer/schedule
Their preview article for the match with the Buffs - Not available as I type this.

Media links:

Link to links to Live stats for all Buff matches -
https://www.statbroadcast.com/events/statbroadcast.php?t=1&gid=colo .
Direct link to live stats for this match - http://stats.statbroadcast.com/broadcast/?id=469624

Live Video - The match is scheduled to be shown live on the Pac 12 Los Angeles and Mountain channels. For those whose Cable/ Satellite/ Cord Cutting subscription includes access to any Pac 12 channel, assume it can also be streamed through a link at https://pac-12.com/womens-soccer/event/2023/09/22/ucla-colorado.

Match notes - Not available as I type this.
Preview in front of tomorrow's BIG conference opener -

Direct link - https://cubuffs.com/news/2023/9/21/soccer-buffs-open-pac-12-play-against-no-5-ucla.aspx

BOULDER – The No. 20 Colorado Buffaloes welcome in No. 5 UCLA to open the Pac-12 Conference season under the lights Friday night at Prentup Field (7 p.m. MT).

Colorado (8-1-0) owns the longest winning streak in the Pac-12, having been victorious in its last seven matches. UCLA (6-1-0), the defending national champions, spent the first three weeks of the season ranked No. 1 in the country before getting upset by then No. 7 BYU.

"We're very excited for this opportunity to start conference play at home against the defending national champs," head coach Danny Sanchez noted. "This is a great opportunity for us to showcase our new facility and get a big crowd. I think it's going to be a great atmosphere on Friday."

Friday will be the second consecutive trip UCLA has made to Boulder. The Buffs dropped a rather forgetful 6-0 contest to the eventual national champions last October. CU has left the past in the past and is looking forward to the challenge the Bruins present.

"At the end of it last year, a loss is a loss," Sanchez added. "I thought last year we did a great job of bouncing back and getting a draw against USC on the following Sunday. Half of our team is new. A lot of the important pieces on the field are brand new. We haven't really discussed last year at all. It's all about this year."

One of the new pieces this season has been sophomore goalkeeper Jordan Nytes. The 2022 Co-Big 12 Goalkeeper of the Year has yet to allow a goal in the run of play through nine games this season. The goalkeeping was a question mark at times last season, but the arrival of Nytes along with strong play on the defensive line, has put any doubts to rest. She entered this week ranking 20th in the NCAA (2nd Pac-12) with a 0.44 goals-against average and is 16th in the country (2nd Pac-12) with a .886 save %.

The Buffs are coming off a hard-fought 3-1 win over Denver last Friday. The win handed CU its eighth of the season, matching the win total of each of the last two seasons.

"It feels kind of like a Pac-12 game to us," senior Rachel Rosen said after the win at DU. "They are really good and I think that intensity is going to carry into Pac-12 play."

The Bruins picked up a 2-0 win over Pepperdine to close out their non-conference season. UCLA has held opponents to four shots or less in six of its seven games this season. Sunshine Fontes and Reilyn Turner lead the way for UCLA with nine points apiece this season. Fontes leads the team in scoring with four goals.

Friday is the lone match for either team this week as the Pac-12 split the opening week of competition. The Buffs will visit Los Angeles and USC on Oct. 14.

"Having one game is good for both teams," Sanchez explained. "It allows for more recovery and more preparation. You can focus on one opponent versus trying to get set up for two opponents. I think a lot of early [for us] was recovering and the last couple days of training were very good. We'll be ready to go on Friday."

Thad Anderson will have the call on the Pac-12 Networks.

Friday's match is the team's annual Buffs Wear Black and Soctoberfest match. Fans will receive a Soctoberfest mug and a free drink ticket that can be redeemed at the marketing table. There are also discounts on beer up to kickoff.
Having completed the non-conference portion of the season with a 8-1 record the Buffs open conference play at home v defending national champion UCLA Friday night in Boulder. CU has more non-conference wins than any other Pac 12 side.

So, what went well? Without a doubt CU is better defensively than a year ago. It starts with Jordan Nytes (So transfer) at keeper and the center back pairing of Greer Maguire (So transfer) and Faith Leyba (Fr) as well as the outside backs and DMs. In nine matches they have conceded four goals and two of them were PKs. Nytes has played every minute and made 31 saves on 35 shots on goal by the opponents for a 0.44 GA per game with five shutouts.

Both Amaya Gonzalez and Jade Babcock-Chi have been solid in the defensive midfield role thus far. Rachel Rosen on the left side of the backline and Babcock-Chi/Ava Priest* on the right have been solid.

The issue continues to be the attack. For all the possession in the attacking third there is a lack of creating quality chances and when they do, not consistently finishing them. Danny Sanchez changed the formation from a 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2 diamond during the spring. Prior to the season it looked like Jenny Beyer was going to be the central attacking midfielder. However, she suffered a torn ACL in the preseason and it looks like the coaches are trying to figure out who is best at the role. For most of the season it’s been Emerson Layne, but that’s not the best fit for her or the team. Thus there have been struggles in creating quality chances in the run of play.

A good proportion, probably around half of the goals scored have been off of set pieces (corners, free kicks and PKs). It’s hard to imagine they can count on set pieces to produce goals consistently against Pac 12 foes. Thus it may mean that the goal scoring will be sporadic in Pac 12 play which doesn’t bode well for piling up results.

This doesn’t mean that there isn’t finishing potential on the team, Senior Shyra James has 7 goals in 9 games and if she’s not shy about shooting. After James, there hasn’t been a consistent scorer, but there have been some opportunistic finishes. Freshman forward Hope Leyba can run at and past defenders the next step is putting more balls in the back of the net.

*Ava Priest at just 17 looks to have a lot of potential and it looks like the coaching staff is trying to figure out her best role. She has started every match initially wide in the midfield and more recently at outside right back. It’s hard to say where she will be most impactful in the long run, but she has the skill set to provide some critical plays.
I'll be out of town tonight and I would love for someone to use my ticket. DM me ASAP if you are interested to I can transfer it to you.
A hard cross finds a streaking Bruin and she pounds it home in the 42nd minute. 2-0 ucla.
What in the world is going on with Nytes? She walks and runs, and just made a beautiful save!, without a limp or grimace. But every time she has a free kick, it’s like every bone in her foot is broken.
I'd say the team equated itself pretty good tonight against the defending national champions, with lots of possession but just not the few clean finishes the Bruins had.

And, great to see the crowd.

these are the games that frustrate me. UCLA had 20 shots on goal and CU had 6. This has been typical of CU since I started watching several years ago. really think they need to hire a coach that can be like an offensive coordinator. I just dont think Sanchez is great at getting his team good chances in play. It takes set plays for them to score.